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Things to do in Pai Thailand - why you shouldn't miss this mountain town located in Northern Thailand | Thyme is Honey

I think my post about our One Month Trip to Northern and Southern Thailand will go down as my longest blog post ever. Thailand was such a beautiful country, and we crammed so many things into 4 weeks that it was hard to talk about it all in one blog post without getting totally overwhelmed. I could have (and maybe should have) done a separate post for each city! I’m not going to do that, but I do want to dedicate a separate post to our favorite part of the trip: the two weeks we spent in Pai, Thailand.

Pai is a small city (population 2,200) located in the mountains of Northern Thailand near the border with Myanmar. We kind of stumbled across it while trying to find places to visit north of Chiang Mai. The internet lauded it as a “backpacker’s paradise” and although we didn’t find a ton of information about it, what we did find was enough for us to work it into our itinerary and book 6 nights there. We figured if Pai itself wasn’t what we expected, we could spend our time doing day trips or maybe book a long overnight hiking trip in the mountains or even duck over to Myanmar for a day or two.

But Pai didn’t disappoint! Pai was the absolute best. Within an hour of arriving I was already begging my husband to let us extend our stay in Pai, staying for 11 nights instead of 6. Fortunately our Airbnb was available and they let us extend our stay. We had an absolutely magical two weeks in Pai, had some pretty serious conversations about relocating there (I wouldn’t say we’ve entirely given up on the idea), and can’t wait to get back!

Our 30 Day Trip to Northern and Southern Thailand! All our tips for the best of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Krabi, Tonsai, Phi Phi and Phuket!

So what made Pai so special? I think it was an incredible change of scenery and climate, and if you’ve ever traveled in Thailand you’ll know what I mean! Once you’ve spent some time enduring the heat, traffic and “tourist hustle” of Bangkok, Chiang Mai or some of the southern islands you will be so relieved to arrive in Pai! Although Pai’s main industry is tourism, there are far less people there trying to cram services or trips at you. If you want to arrange something (even a taxi) you’ll likely have to seek it out. People aren’t soliciting your attention or your money and we found that really refreshing. The mountain air is also a welcome relief and it is noticeably cooler up in the mountains, although still comfortably warm (it was mostly in the mid-high 70s when we were there in October). The authenticity in this area is also great — although Pai is developed you don’t have to go far to get into the countryside, interact with hill tribes, or see how Thai people actually live. We also found the businesses in Pai (everything from coffee shops to bars) to be much more authentic and less commercialized than what you might find in other cities.

Pai is small, so I guarantee you won’t have trouble stumbling across any of the things listed below. For the most part they are all located within a few main streets. If possible, I provided a link to their website or Facebook page, but, as I mentioned in my longer Thailand post, I’d recommend saddling up to the bar at Jikko Beer on your first night, making friends with locals and other travelers, and asking for recommendations!

Jikko’s Airbnb (this is where we stayed)
Reverie Siam
There’s no shortage of amazing lodging in Pai, including hostels, rooms for rent and camping

Motorbike Riding (rent from Vespai which has incredible reviews and will give you a very thorough lesson)
Ride to Doi Kew Lom View Point in Huai Nam Dang National Park
Visit the Hot Springs (We made some local friends who took us up to Sai Ngam Hot Spring, it’s cheaper entrance and more authentic than others. When we went it was only local families there, no tourists)
Hike to waterfalls (there are so many, any local can mark them on a map for you. Our favorite was called Elephant Head)
Tube on the Pai River (bring some beers and use caution)
Take Private Yoga Lessons (ask around for a local teacher or studio class)
Learn Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)
Visit an Elephant Sanctuary (Conserve Natural Forests is located in Pai)
Take a class on Fermentation (Kombucha making! These are held at Good Life)
Get a mani/pedi at The Beauty House
Get a Thai Massage (there are dozens of massage places, they average about $5USD for 1 hour)
Take a Thai Cooking Class
Spend an afternoon at Fluid Pool (sure, it’s not the ocean, but its a ton of fun)!
Take a Drive to Lod Cave, where you can ride a bamboo raft through the cave’s river
Ask around about the 2 mile bamboo walkway that leads to a temple and go for a visit!
Pick up sandwiches to go and then literally just head out of town and get lost on the winding roads (as they say, all roads lead to Pai, so you’ll make it home).
Things to do in Pai, Thailand - our 30 day trip to Northern and Southern Thailand.

Sample the extensive mojito menu at Almost Famous
Order the 3 Colors Cocktail at Jikko Bar
Drink all the beer (literally, all of it) at Jikko Beer
Sip Irish Coffees and play a board game at Pai Reggae House
Ride out to Valhalla, a tiny “tree house” bar that is a truly authentic experience (don’t miss it)! (here’s a quick YouTube video of it)

Get a Nutella Crepe
Try some Gelato
Find the artist “Jongrak” (he’s usually selling prints at the market- buy some to bring home!)
Get a Papaya Salad (watch them while they make it, so interesting!)
Fried Rice
Mango Sticky Rice

Taste of Joy (try the Bahn Mi, but everything is delicious)
Cafecito (a Mexican cafe with great tacos. Everything is amazing. Don’t forget a peanut butter cup before you leave, though)
Get some locally made Kombucha at Good Life
Boomelicious (was one of our favorite places for breakfast, try the Muesli!)
Toast Office (an entire menu of tiny toasts!)
Big’s Little Cafe (if you want a standard western breakfast try this place! It’s also a form of entertainment to watch him take all orders by memory and grill up the food!)
Pen’s Kitchen (this was our favorite Thai restaurant in town, although there are many good ones)
Tapas at Reverie Siam (if you want to have a fancy date night and get a peek at this luxury resort!)
Khoatha Coffee Shop (great place to relax or do some work)

Want more info about the month we spent in Thailand? Read my post about spending One Month in Northern and Southern Thailand or read about how I packed for a 1-Month Trip in a Carry-on!
Things to do in Pai Thailand - why you shouldn't miss this mountain town located in Northern Thailand | Thyme is Honey

Things to do in Pai, Thailand

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